Archive for May, 2011

To ghee or coffee?

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I guess I left the cleanse at a cliffhanger moment. Who won? Ghee or coffee? Did I complete it? Did I lose 100 lbs. in 10 days (Ask me how!)? Will I be joining an ashram any time soon? Perhaps I have joined an ashram, hence my not writing about such worldly things…

The truth is, I did slog it out. As best as I wanted to. I didn’t quit. The whiny entry was deep in the throes of caffeine withdrawal. Either it’s a really powerful drug or I’m a sensitive flower (who has the ability to withstand ultra-distance endurance events). For about one day there, it was like Trainspotting. I couldn’t concentrate because the pain in my head was terrible. Looking back, I wonder if that was my first migraine. (And if that’s what they feel like, or even a fraction of so, I am so sorry for y’all.)

We were counseled to get off caffeine a few days before starting the cleanse to avoid what I promptly ran into. I remember it was difficult last fall when I did it for the very same reason. Whether it was time (and my brain releasing its desperate pining for a fix) or a modified abhyanga just on my feet, on the third day I broke through. I didn’t even need to give in a little with some black tea.

I followed the rest of the cleanse much more loosely than last time. I wasn’t strict about the daily meditation or yoga or greasing up. Although food-wise, I followed it to the letter and enjoyed discovering a quick lentil soup that I’ll be making every few weeks or so. There was no major personal transformation or toxic evacuation or enlightenment. I’m anything if not stubborn and the fact that it cost more than $20 (yeah, kind of into getting my money’s worth) meant I wasn’t going to throw it all away, especially after the bodily pain. That said, there are a couple things that I have taken away from it.

As far as weight loss, sure, there was some. But that’s really not the point. And I’m not going to tell you. I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t believe in diets or fasts. But 10 days of focusing on simply digestible food, that’s seasonal and homemade—what could be better? I now differentiate between eating vs. nourishing my body. Sure it was a reduced range of foods that I took in (vegan except for ghee, no gluten, no alcohol), but by turning the volume down on the hoovering I usually do, I can listen to my body a bit more closely. As I introduced my usual foods back into rotation, I could notice if they truly felt good in my tummy, not just in my mouth.

I guess the biggest take-away has been mindful eating. To me, that plays into my selection of what goes in, how much I eat, and enjoying whatever I eat to the fullest, whether it’s quinoa or nachos (which I’ve been meaning to have, but haven’t felt the need yet). While I do believe there’s a possibility for scientific breakthroughs in nutrition research, most of the noise in the media is just a faddy flash in the pan. Common sense and simplicity rule my choices. I love frozen fake meat products as much as the next pseudo-vegetarian (I prefer vegaqurian because I eat seafood and fish), but wouldn’t I prefer something that didn’t come from a factory in a box?

A big buzzword (buzzphrase?) when I used to work in food was portion control. In the middle of the cleanse, I just ate mung beans and rice with spices for all three meals. And, yes, it was just three meals a day. No snacks. As a grazer and former athlete, I thought we had to eat many small meals a day for optimum health. Maybe, but are you really just eating mini meals? Our perception of serving sizes are out of whack, so five American meals a day ain’t gonna help nobody.

The cleanse forced me to focus on just that one bowl when it’s time to eat. Torture? Not really. How much is enough? When you think about how most of the world lives, a mono-diet of just rice and beans obviously has been sustaining people for centuries. Which appetizer to choose and dressing on the side are first-world problems. A simple bowl, maybe a bit more than I could hold in my hands, can be a hearty meal. Which takes me to my big idea for a best-selling diet/weight loss book… but that will have to be another post.

There was no hedonistic binge after the ten days. Like Marcy said in the comments, “Everything in moderation.” That’s kind of what I’ve been doing. No food is inherently bad. The amount of it and the percentage it represents of what I typically consume matters. So that means no drinking vats of fondue, as much as I think I’d enjoy it. But I’ll have a tater tot. Or a couple. I still don’t snack. I make sure to eat satisfying, but realistic meals. I don’t need to be constantly packing my digestive system with a steady stream of food. I eat, then I stop. Just like playing green light/red light. Repeat at lunch and dinner. That’s not so extreme is it?

Part of me wishes I did more of the yoga and meditation bits. I could roll out my mat, but haven’t really gotten around to it. When I need it, it’ll be positive addition to my life. I’ve run a few times since my birthday. I’m not ready to say I’m a runner again (although I would love to do the Reykjavik Marathon in 2012 with Mel and do a little Knitting Iceland thingy-doo), but I have run somewhat regularly and that’s a welcome return and change.

The most surprising change for me is coffee. I have not dove back into the brown waters of daily consumption. Part of me does not want to hurt like I did coming off of it, and indulging in it as before doesn’t seem prudent. I am sleeping better, waking up earlier and generally brighter and more clear-headed (not a raging detoxing addict). I miss the joy it brought me, the mornings together with Chris, and the delicious taste of great roast or perfectly pulled cappuccino. But I can make our Chemex for Chris’ morning mugs, I still walk the dogs to Sightglass for an after-work or weekend ritual, and on occasion I will enjoy a cup of joe. Just yesterday, my first post-cleanse Americano hit the spot.

Life’s too short for no coffee. But it’s also too short for bad (or bread or wine or cheese).